Murder trial begins for Ish in 2009 death of Red Elk

Martin Edmo Ish

Martin Edmo Ish

By Josh Friesen,

POCATELLO — The second-degree murder trial for Martin Edmo Ish, who is charged with the beating death of Eugene Lorne Red Elk outside an Old Town bar in 2009, began Monday at the Bannock County Courthouse.

After a Twin Falls-based jury — which includes four men and 10 women — received instruction from Sixth District Judge David C. Nye, the prosecution and the defense presented their opening arguments.

Bannock County Prosecutor Steve Herzog began, saying that on June 14, 2009, Ish was at the Bourbon Barrel bar in Old Town with friends.

Herzog says Ish “misbehaved,” was forced to leave the Bourbon Barrel and went to Duffy’s Tavern. Employees at the Bourbon Barrel, Herzog says, contacted Duffy’s employees warning them that Ish was heading their way.

Shortly after Ish arrived at Duffy’s Tavern, he was approached by Red Elk — a part-time bouncer at the bar — who told Ish to leave. Herzog says a patron of the bar observed Ish leaving and then pacing back and forth in the parking lot. Red Elk left the bar minutes later.

Red Elk was found severely injured lying on the pavement shortly after, and police were called to the scene. Red Elk was taken to Portneuf Medical Center before being flown via helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. He died of his injuries three days later.

Herzog then told the jury a witness who knew Red Elk and lived across from the street from Duffy’s Tavern observed Red Elk speaking to an individual in the bar’s parking lot on June 14, 2009.

Herzog says the witness watched Red Elk get assaulted and fall to the pavement. Though the witness’ statements have been inconsistent over the course of the investigation, Herzog said, one thing that remained the same was the description of the individual who assaulted Red Elk. Based on that description, the prosecution believes that person was Ish.

In 2012, police contacted Ish’s girlfriend at the time, and Herzog said she told police Ish told her he had “knocked someone out” on June 14, 2009.

Following Red Elk’s death Ish’s cousin told police she went to her aunt’s house, where Ish also lived, and it was there that Ish told his cousin what he had done to Red Elk, Herzog said.

According to Herzog, Ish told police during the investigation that he was mad when he was told to leave Duffy’s.

“This case is about pride,” Herzog said. “Hurt pride.”

Bannock County Felony Deputy Public Defender Scott Andrew, who with Bannock County Chief Public Defender Randy Schulthies is defending Ish, began his opening statement by saying the jury will not hear any testimony about the specifics of the assault on Red Elk such as punches being thrown.

Andrew also said the timeline of the incident doesn’t add up — that accounts from witnesses are inconsistent with each other. The description of the individual involved in the altercation with Red Elk given by the witness who lives across the street from Duffy’s, Andrew said, does not necessarily match Ish.

Andrew also said security camera video footage from Duffy’s on the night of the beating was destroyed.

The prosecution called two witnesses Monday: Bourbon Barrel bartender Linda Loveday and Bourbon Barrel’s former owner Jenny Hill. Loveday and Hill testified that Ish was upset and causing issues at Bourbon Barrel, painting a picture for the jury of Ish’s general demeanor as he left Bourbon Barrel and went to Duffy’s.

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday when the prosecution is expected to call witnesses from Duffy’s Tavern.

The charge of second-degree murder carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.